Read, Write and Translate

Bryan Whitney offers perhaps the best bail out move I have ever seen, better than dictee maybe because that only lasts ten to fifteen minutes, posted below. I call it Write Their Little Butts Off. 

For those who  don’t know what a Bail Out Move is, it’s just a way to end something that isn’t working during class, either because of classroom management chaos or just if we don’t feel good about where the story is going, etc. and we need a break right there in the middle of class.

Usually we need a bail out move when we have “one of those classes” but they can be used at any time if you feel tired or whatever. College teachers teach 8 classes a week or so; we teach at least 25 – some of us teach 35 and up. That is too many.

So here is Bryan’s contribution. I love it. It is inspired: 

I have them read, write and translate. This gives them CI, but is easy on you, and keeps them working on the text. I would let them know that they can do more interactive activities once they can show you they can handle them. [Ed. note: notice how tricky this is. Not only does it give us a break in what we are doing to a much easier level of how hard we are working, it also sends them the message that they will be doing a LOT of this kind of writing until they move into a more compassionate level with you of being able to honor your efforts in bringing them auditory CI – they have to EARN it.]

Have them write their little hands off. I would also do daily quick quizzes at the end of class, or at least weekly/every other day dictées or translation quizzes. Let them feel the pressure. I’m in the same situation with my last class of the day. They’re totally getting this because they can’t seem to pull it together and show me (or each other) the respect that is required of a full-on CI class. Thankfully, my other classes are great, but I’m not going to put in more work and get all stressed out just because they aren’t showing up and putting in their 50%.



14 thoughts on “Read, Write and Translate”

  1. I´m feeling a little lost on this bail out move. What is your text for the bail out move? Do you provide a paragraph or two and have them copy it? Then they write the translation as well? The idea sounds good but could you go into more details please? Thank you!

      1. Yes it is possible. It wasn’t clear. The point is, and Tina and I stressed this in the summer, that kids who can’t step up to the plate as listeners will (a) read, (b) write or (c) if you really want to make them think, translate. With everything handed it for a grade. Those three things, whether you do them w the same text all at once or, as you suggest, separately, activities that spare you, shield you from their snotty attitudes when you do auditory CI. The ultimate version of this self preservation game for us is the grammar worksheets like Greg made work in his classroom last week. I feel sorry for teachers who try to follow the 90% rule of ACTFL. If it ain’t working, it ain’t working and there are classes like that and in my opinion they all trace back to one bad egg.

        1. To give myself a bit of variety I’m going to do a day or two of grammar (where they fill out worksheets & translate them to English to verify meaning- I could even see using those for some of the Reading Options such as read from the back of the room[asking comprehension questions] if they can handle it), then a day or two of reading, writing, translation, quiz, then repeat until they’re ready to move on or the end of the year arrives… We’ll see which happens first.

    1. I would think it would be whatever text you have been working on. It could be anything, a description of a one word image, a story, a previous story, anything that they could read that they know from previous classes. Maybe Bryan will address this.

      1. It could really be any text. You could project a text from a reader, or stories that you have collected, or even have them do a grammar worksheet and then have them translate the entire sentence (one of the problems with grammar worksheets is that kids can fill them out without actually being aware of meaning. If you have them translate it you at least know that they are thinking about the meaning, which may not be the greatest CI, but it’s CI nonetheless. You could also just write up something on the fly like Tina does with Write & Discuss, it’s just that they have to copy it down at the same time, and then translate.

        1. If you’re feeling real crabby, project a story in English(like Anne Matava’s scripts) and tell them they have to translate it to the target language. While they do that, you do it yourself and then you project that and have them correct it line by line. This could really take a lot of time and make them feel the pressure. If you want to be nice supply them with some of the key words, or have them look it up in a dictionary.

    2. If it’s gotten to this point I would definitely have them copy it down in the target language, and then write the translation below it.

  2. I think this is BRILLIANT!!!
    I too have one class with a couple of very stinky eggs. So I’m thinking of adapting like this:
    –Take your SSR book and read for 10-15 min. (depending on where I had to stop class)
    –On separate sheet of paper, write down pages read “from/to”
    –Translate line by line all that you’ve read.
    This should eat up time like crazy. If there are “quickies”, I’ll go to them and give them a reading range to read and translate.
    If all class is finished, then they can put the book away and:
    a. Translate back to Spanish (no can do, ji, ji, ji), or if I have some love left
    b. Write a X number of words story based on what you read.

    1. Having them copy down the line in the target language before translating also makes it easier to grade because you can really just glance at it and make sure they did it or not. You can tell them that this gives them practice in writing in the target language, and it also gives them an easy 50% if they totally bomb the translation. It also eats up time…

  3. Also, if they are really bad, I can keep them on this regimen, day after day, for as long as it takes for them to get the message and they start begging to go back to auditory CI. BTW, this is a level 2 class that can take all that reading albeit grudgingly.

  4. Hey all,
    So I have been out of the loop for a while now but I thought I would chime in here, even though this is a rather old thread now. (Hey it’s new to me, right?)

    I feel like this is a nuclear option. Especially the way Laura is describing here at the end. This is serious punishment. Any students who were on the verge of not liking your class will wish you and they were dead instead of this. This is mechanical menial task after mechanical menial task. Don’t get me wrong. This is powerful stuff and I wish I had thought of it for some of my classes last year, but once you do this there is no going back.
    I just think I would stress caution because this is a serious one that, potentially, could cause you to lose a ton of class community and make kids’ affective filters go through the roof.
    I hope I don’t have to use this one this year, but last year I would have definitely bailed out to this at least once.

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